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Here’s why UK might impose ‘punishing tax’ on flights to SA

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Oct 26, 2021

The United Kingdom is said to be considering an increase in Air Passenger Duty (APD) for long-haul flights.  The government is expected to introduce tax reforms that will increase air passenger duties on flights to destinations more than 8 850km away.

Changes are expected to be announced in the UK budget which is being tabled this week.

Easing of UK, SA travel restrictions

The recent easing of travel restrictions between the UK and South Africa has led to airlines ramping up their flight schedules amid the surging demand for flights despite an increase in fares.

The bad news is that flights may become even more costly. Passengers flying to destinations, including South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, may have to fork out more for flights from the UK if the proposal goes ahead.

UK DEPARTURE TAXES

The United Kingdom’s passenger departure charges depend on a destination’s distance from the UK.  APD is currently charged in two tax bands.

The UK now wants a three-band structure, with flights of more than 8 850km facing the highest charges. Under the current system, the UK charges between £84 (R1 710) and £185 (R3 765) for standard flights to destinations beyond the 3 218km range.

ALSO READ : SAA will not return with London flights anytime soon

IMPACT ON SA TOURISM 

Due to physical distance, fares between the UK and South Africa could get a lot more expensive.  London and Johannesburg are just more than 9 000km apart, which places South Africa outside the proposed 8 851km band.

This has the potential to harm SA’s tourist industry, which is in recovery mode due to the pandemic.

UK’S ‘POLLUTER PAY’ POLICY

According to the Daily Mail, the UK’s Treasury revealed earlier this year it was considering raising taxes on flights to far-off destinations in an attempt to make the “polluter pay”. 

It is believed that the change would ensure that “those who travel furthest and consequently have the greatest impact on the environment would pay for the privilege by way of higher taxes”.

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